Trump claims 'absolute right' to share info with Russia

20 May, 2017, 10:20 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • National Security Adviser H.R. Mc Master walks back to the West Wing of the White House in Washington Monday

The revelations - which Trump appeared to verify in a pair of tweets Tuesday morning - are sure to shadow the president as he embarks Friday on his first overseas trip as president. In tweets sent Tuesday, Trump said he shared "facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety" and had "the absolute right" to do so.

The meeting, a personal request from Russian President Vladimir Putin - who asked that they meet when he spoke with Trump earlier this month - was supposed to remain behind closed doors without any media coverage.

Trump has frequently said he wants to improve U.S. relations with Moscow, damaged by years of disagreement over Russia's role in Ukraine and its backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House on Tuesday defended Trump discussing with the Russians an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.

The latest controversy in the White House came as it continued to reel from the fallout over Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey last week and amid congressional calls for an independent investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election.

The president's action drew rare criticism from some Republicans, who are desperate to get the White House refocused on health care and tax changes.

Defending Trump's actions, officials played down the importance and secrecy of the information, which had been supplied by Israel under an intelligence-sharing agreement, and Trump himself said he had "an absolute right" as president to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russian Federation. "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism", Trump tweeted. Sharing classified information from the ally violates the confidentiality of an intelligence-sharing agreement with that country, the official said.

Now an unnamed Israeli intelligence officer tells BuzzFeed that they are very concerned about the leak - despite the fact that the government is publicly saying that it won't change its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States.

"The adviser, H.R. McMaster, says Trump's revelation "in no way" compromised intelligence sources and methods. This is not how a White House should operate", Schumer said.

"Reports that this information was provided by a USA ally and shared without its knowledge sends a troubling signal to America's allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future", the Arizona Republican's statement said.

"Our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality", McMaster said, again emphasizing that Trump did not disclose confidential information.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also disputed the report.

Afterward, White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency, the newspaper said.

Then, last week, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had led the bureau's probe into the president's links with Russian Federation.

A second official, senior German lawmaker Burkhard Lischka, called Trump's disclosures "highly worrying".

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, also would not comment on the intelligence - but expressed confidence in the nation's relationship with the US.

"Revealing classified information at this level is extremely unsafe and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country".

Trump described his talks with the Russians as "an openly scheduled" meeting at the White House. AP writer Paisley Dodds contributed from London.

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